Denis Dyack (born July 14, 1966) is the former president of Canada-based video game developer Silicon Knights, and is a video game designer, writer, director and producer. Dyack directed the production of Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem and Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain, and was inducted into the Canadian Gaming Hall of Fame by the Canadian Game Development Talent Awards in November 2011.
Early life and education
Dyack founded Silicon Knights in 1992 and the company's early games were developed for DOS, Atari ST and Amiga computers. An exclusive deal was then signed with Nintendo for Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem and Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes for Nintendo GameCube.
I think gamers can expect what they normally expect from us, even a bit more. The relationship with Microsoft is going to create something very unique ... People will notice that we're consistent with our games, but will also be very excited with where we're taking it. With some of the directions that our very radical and very exciting. We can't wait to talk about it, it's just not the time yet ... They [Sega] understand that we want to do bigger and better games with higher production values. Sega seems to really get it.
The company was subject to a successful countersuit from Epic Games in May 2012 over the development of games using Epic's Unreal Engine 3, and the latter was awarded US $4.45 million in damages. Silicon Knights was also ordered to destroy all copies of existing titles using the engine, as well as in-development games The Sandman, Siren in the Maelstrom and The Box/Rytualist.
In 2013, Silicon Knights was involved in a dispute with Ontario's Federal Economic Development Agency, after it received a 2010 loan of around US$4 million for the development of a new mainstream video game that would create more than 65 jobs. Repayment was scheduled for 2013, but Ontario government officials refused to disclose any information to the media.
Shortly after Silicon Knights filed a new appeal in the Epic Games case, the closure of the company was announced in the media in May 2013. A source informed the Polygon publication that most of the company's employees were laid off in mid-2012 and Dyack formed a new company, Precursor Games, with a core group of ex-Silcon Knights employees at around the same time. At the time of the announcement, Silicon Knights had not filed for bankruptcy and the studio's chief financial officer, Mike Mays, insisted that the studio was "definitely alive."
Following the closure of Silicon Knights, Dyack became the chief creative officer at Precursor Games. Dyack announced the change on Silicon Knights Internet forums, but refused to discuss Silicon Knights at the time:
It has been a very long time ... I am sorry I was away so long, it was not intended and I truly regret that I could not interact more with you all. I wanted to do so but it simply was not an option for me at the time. I really hope you can understand. As most of you already probably have seen, I am no longer at Silicon Knights and I joined Precursor Games some time ago ... I look forward to seeing what we can accomplish with the community and our crowd sourcing campaigns. I do see that some people are disappointed at the way things turned out, so was I and many others, believe me.
Due to ongoing litigation between Silicon Knights and Epic Games, the move to Precursor was under scrutiny. Precursor Games CEO Paul Caporicci explained Precursor's position in relation to Silicon Knights in May 2013:
We are a completely separate and independent entity and always have been ... Precursor is not and never has been a party to that case, and is not involved in it whatsoever. We purchased completely wiped clean machines, that is all. There is no basis for any liability or any claim against Precursor Games. We wish Silicon Knights the best of luck in their future.
X-Men: Destiny controversy
The video game website Kotaku published an article by Australian journalist Andrew McMillen in October 2012, entitled "What Went Wrong With Silicon Knights' X-Men: Destiny?" In the article, McMillen provides details of the actions of Dyack, according to information provided by anonymous sources. McMillen's story covers allegations that Dyack mistreated employees and embezzled funds; although, McMillen informs readers at the outset that his story only covers certain perspectives and is not a thorough account. McMillen sought out responses from Dyack but none of the members of Silicon Knights' management team responded to his request for comment.
Dyack eventually responded in May 2013, following the closure of the Silicon Knights company, using the YouTube video-sharing platform to broadcast a recording in which he directly addressed McMillen's article, explaining that the allegations were affecting both him and his colleagues at the time. In the 30-minute video, Dyack admitted to mistakes that he made during the development of X-Men: Destiny, but denies the allegations in McMillen's article. The GameNGuide website concluded in its assessment of the video: "Even if Dyack is telling the truth about mismanaging funds, Silicon Knights still closed its doors this month meaning that business wasn't being properly handled in some capacity."
In a July 2005 interview, Dyack revealed his perspective on the future of large-scale multiplayer online games:
I really want a story, really want to find out what's happening, have an experience. Rather than just trying to get to the next level. I think in the future, when bandwidth becomes less of an issue, multi-player games and single-player games will start to merge. Whether it's cooperative or competitive, there will be an online component to most everything. The future of hardware is no hardware.
Accolades and awards
Dyack is a member of the Peter Drucker Society and the board of the Entertainment Software Association of Canada.
- Brian Crecente (9 May 2013). "Silicon Knights unloads property, closes office, continues battle with Epic Games". Polygon. Vox Media Inc. Retrieved 6 July 2014.
- Chris Kohler (26 July 2005). "Interview: Silicon Knights' Denis Dyack Goes 360". Gamasutra. UBM Tech. Retrieved 6 July 2014.
- Griffin McElroy (30 May 2012). "Epic Games wins lawsuit against Silicon Knights, awarded $4.45 Million". Polygon. Vox Media Inc. Retrieved 6 July 2014.
- Brian Crecente. "Silicon Knights unloads property, closes office, continues battle with Epic Games". Polygon.
- Steve Farrelly (29 October 2012). "Silicon Knights Strips to Five or so Employees, Former Members Open Up on Poor X-Men: Destiny Development and Eternal Darkness 2". Ausgamers. AusGamers™ Pty Ltd. Retrieved 6 July 2014.
- Andrew McMillen (26 October 2012). "What Went Wrong With Silicon Knights' X-Men: Destiny?". Kotaku. Kotaku. Retrieved 6 July 2014.
- Ural Garrett (22 May 2013). "What We Learned Watching Denis Dyack's Video". GameNGuide. Game & Guide. Retrieved 6 July 2014.
- Mike Futter (19 May 2013). "Denis Dyack Denies Allegations, Admits He 'Made A Lot Of Mistakes'". Game Informer. Game Stop Network. Retrieved 6 July 2014.
- Jared Rea. "Dennis Dyack says nay to the enthusiast press, again". Joystiq.
- Philip Kollar. "Dyack on 1UP Yours: Forums Need Reform". 1UP.com.
- "Sword & Sworcery EP Wins Big At Canadian Game Development Talent Awards". Gamasutra. November 3, 2011.